(Contempt of Court) — Court refuses to drop criminal case against Google Brazil’s director for disobeying an electoral court order

This is NOT old news from 2012. It is a recent decision 2013 (March) – Brazilian Court

— “(…) Last Thursday (21st March 2013), the justices of the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (TSE) unanimously denied the habeas corpus relief sought by the director of Google Brasil Internet Ltda., Edmundo Luiz Pinto Balthazar, challenging the decision rendered by the regional Electoral Court of Paraiba (TRE-PB) upholding his arrest and the criminal charges against him for failing to comply with an order issued by an electoral court. Last September (2012), a lower electoral court ordered Google to take down a YouTube video supposedly offensive to Romero Rodrigues, a mayoral candidate for Campina Grande-PB in 2012.

The Regional Electoral Court of Paraíba ordered the removal of the video within 24 hours, but the director of Google Brazil allegedly repeatedly failed to comply with this order. In his defense, Edmundo Balthazar argued, among other things, that he had no intent to violate the court order and that the higher court’s decision abridges freedom of expression and freedom of information.

In the habeas corpus decision, the reporting JusticeTN Nancy Andrighi said that Google Brazil’s director failed to comply with a lawful decision issued by an electoral court of competent jurisdiction ordering the removal of the offensive video. Justice Andrighi said that, according to the case records, the director of Google Brazil “repeatedly refused to comply with a lawful court order” to remove the video whose content constituted an illegal electoral campaign ad.

“This conduct is particularly serious because it shows the intent of the detainee – the company’s representative – to remain indifferent to the court order. In theory, this constitutes the crime of disobedience set out in section 347 of the Electoral Code,” the reporting Justice said.

The Justice also pointed out that the order to remove the offensive video from the Internet “is a provisional remedy aimed at preventing further harm to the victim’s image until a final judgment is entered in the case regarding the illegal electoral campaign”. According to Justice Andrighi, the company has no right to claim the legality of the video to justify non-compliance with the court order. It must file the appropriate appeal instead.

Justice Nancy Andrighi said that Edmundo Balthazar, director of Google Brasil Internet Ltda., “is the person legally responsible” for complying with the court order to remove the video from the Internet. “The Regional Electoral Court (TRE) of Paraíba warned that any failure to comply with the court order would result in criminal liability,” the Justice pointed out in her opinion.


Related case: HC 121148

(*) Source: Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (TSE)http://www.tse.jus.br/noticias-tse/2013/Marco/mantida-acao-penal-contra-diretor-geral-do-google-brasil-por-desobediencia-a-ordem-eleitoral

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